H is for Hazel Holt

This is part of the Alphabet of Crime Fiction series. Big thanks to Kerrie for doing the leg work. You can show your appreciation by heading on over to Mysteries in Paradise and either signing up or cheering everyone on.

H is for Hazel Holt

That’s right, two H’s. I’m playing this meme on difficulty level high! 🙂

On to the serious stuff… I picked up a Hazel Holt book (Mrs. Malory and the Delay of Execution) last time I was at the library. A couple of things about it caught my eye… author’s name begins with an H (hooray for meme fulfillment) and it was a British cozy. My first impression about Holt is that her work is enjoyable. I read through most of the book in one sitting. It was a good read, mostly well written and has an interesting twist at the end. It was however a little slow in developing. I don’t need a fast paced thriller but I do like one that tickles my “little grey cells.” That’s where this book comes up short. It doesn’t give the reader a lot of chances or even reasons to speculate as to who the killer is. In fact, other than randomly guessing the identity of the killer there is no way to predict who did it was because the background isn’t provided until the killer reveals it. Someone like Christie, on the other hand, was such a tease.

The other thing about the book was that sometimes it felt like the author was leaking through. Let me explain. There were moments (her descriptions of Birmingham for example) when I was reading the book that made me go “Is this the character’s experience or is it the author’s?” That’s partly a problem with the first person narrative but it was another point of dissonance when compared to Christie. I’ve never read a Christie novel that made me think of Christie as I was reading it. Even the ones with Ms. Ariadne Oliver, who if I remember correctly, Christie modeled after herself didn’t disrupt the narrative. A book about Poirot is a book about Poirot. A book about Ms. Marple is a book about Ms. Marple. Of course, it is patently unfair to any writer to compare their work with Christie’s, but it was one of things that stood out to me.

Bottom line, Holt is a good writer and if you enjoy British life and cozies, you will enjoy her work. I did.


4 responses »

  1. Margot Kinberg

    Peter – Interesting choice! And I’m glad you brought up the point of whose voice we really hear in Holt’s (or any author’s) work. Sometimes as you say, we hear the character’s voice – quite clearly too. Other times we get glimpses of the author. That’s really interesting “food for thought” for which thanks.

  2. I know there are times when the writer does leak through into the novel but it shouldn’t be so noticeable. I’ll check out this double H though.


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